Reporter 425, 19 October 1998

News in brief

The grand old theatre

Theatre and theatrical culture in nineteenth-century Leeds are to be explored in a major new project in the School of English.

Leeds was a thriving centre of theatrical activity in Victorian England, and the research aims to give a clearer picture of its nature and extent. The department hopes to enlist the help of local people who may have relevant material such as notes of amateur-dramatic meetings, programmes, reviews or other theatre memorabilia from the period.

The Leverhulme-funded project is the first systematic study of Victorian theatre in a large provincial city and unique in its approach to try to put theatre into a wider cultural framework.

The main theatre in the city at the end of the last century was the Grand Theatre and Opera House, which opened in 1878. This will be the initial focus for much of the research, which will also establish the foundations for a larger study of theatre in the region. For further information contact Gail Marshall at the University on ext 4749.

A Nobel study

The winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, José Saramago, is the subject of a book being prepared by Dr David Frier of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Dr Frier has been researching the work of the Portuguese novelist for a number of years, and this year introduces a module discussing Saramago’s novels into the department’s MA in Contemporary Ibero-American studies.

Computerised heart

The British Heart Foundation has awarded a grant of over £100,000 to a University project developing a computer model of the heart’s reaction to high levels of acidity – a condition seen in many heart diseases. Professor Clive Orchard of the School of Biomedical Sciences is leading the research, which will study how individual cells react to the acid, then use this information to develop the model.

Strong set of pipes

Plastic pipes produced using a unique technology developed at the University will soon be supplying the Pacific Rim with water and gas. The technology was commercialised by the Centre for Industrial Polymers (CIP), a division of ULIS, and a licence agreement has been announced with Mitsubishi Chemical Corporation.

The die drawing process, developed by a team of researchers led by Professor Ian Ward, uses special techniques to stretch plastics, imparting high stiffness and twice the burst strength of conventional plastic pipes. The technique allows manufacturers to reduce costs and to upgrade pipes for use at higher pressures.

PCs help GPs

Software to assist the diagnosis of acute abdominal pain, which could save the NHS millions of pounds, has been developed at the University.

The ‘AAP Help’ software allows doctors to compare detailed information on the symptons and health of their patient with 15,000 other cases on a database. The package was developed from research in the Clinical Information Science Unit, and is being produced and marketed by ULIS. Hospitals using the software have reported a 20% improvement in initial diagnostic accuracy, with unnecessary admissions also reduced by 20%.

Nursing ideas

Innovative and creative practitioners are encouraged to become involved in medical research through a concept pioneered by the Centre for the Development of Nursing Policy and Practice. The practice development unit programme in the School of Healthcare Studies has 100 members world-wide and helps them work alongside their colleagues in research. The unit builds on the success of the similar nursing development unit programme introduced over a decade ago.

The Centre has recently been awarded a major contract by the Irish government to run a course for matrons across the Republic. It will look at nursing in hospital and community settings, and include visits to accredited practice development units in the UK.

Health foundation

A bricklaying ceremony took place on October 2 to celebrate the commencement of work on the new University medical centre.

University Pro-Chancellor Colonel Alan Roberts and Professor Ron De Witt, chief executive of Leeds Health Authority, laid bricks at the new site on the junction of Blenheim Walk and Blackman Lane.

Work-to-rule no more

The AUT has called off its work-to-rule over the non-renewal of three Philosophy contract posts following a vote of 240-40 in favour of dropping the action.

The University and the union have begun negotiations over a ‘statement of principles’ on the management of fixed-term contracts. AUT local president David Salinger said all members would be consulted about the proposals.

Coming out in code

The diaries of Anne Lister, which detail her relationships with other women in her own secret code, will be discussed at a forthcoming conference. The one-day event on November 14, Coming Out? Reading the Anne Lister evidence will discuss the work of the Halifax diarist and includes lectures and workshop sessions. The conference is being organised by the School of Continuing Education in association with the Centre for Interdisciplinary Gender Studies. For more information contact Marilyn Moreland on ext 3220.

Dark ages enlightened

The fifth International Medieval Congress attracted some 1350 participants from over 30 countries and 950 speakers – with some 25 parallel sessions at any one time. The event considered the European Middle Ages from a wide range of disciplines, including history, archaeology, philosophy, music and women’s studies.

The event took place fifty years after Emeritus Professor Maurice Beresford began his renowned research into the deserted village of Wharram Percy. As a tribute to his work this year’s Congress focused on the theme of medieval settlement.

Student supporters

Student support into the 21st century was discussed by over 50 members of staff at the Student Support Network’s recent conference.

Delegates heard Mr Stephen McNair, higher education adviser to the DfEE, deliver a keynote address on the relationship between student support and the learning experience.

The presentation considered the current climate of constant change, and by considering the need for student support alongside the need for greater autonomy in learning, helped put it into the context of the University’s own student support work.

Bright sparks

Two professors from the School of Electronic and Electrical Engineering have received awards.

Professor Christopher Snowden has been awarded the Microwave Prize by the IEEE Microwave Theory and Techniques Society and Professor Peter Daly received the ‘Johannes Kepler prize’ on September 18 in Nashville, Tennessee.

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